According to Andrew Wilkinson crowdfunding is “a process where you raise money by selling your product in advance of producing it. For example, you might want to record and album, so you sell advance download of your album for $10 and for $25 your fan would also receive a signed CD; For $50 you’d add their name to the thank you credits and so on.”1 How though does this come into play when considering crowdsourcing for a more private project or rather one that doesn’t yield public results? In the case of a recording artist he can offer backers advance copies of songs, perks along the way, a special live performance, etc. What about your tiny house though? Can you offer perks along the way or even once complete? Chances are the answer is no. So how then does crowdfunding work for a tiny house? Truth of the matter is, it doesn’t.
Never before has crowdfunding been so popular. In fact, Kickstarter (perhaps the largest and best known of crowdfunding sites) claims to have a 44% success rate. This, of course, has variables that can either make the results greater or less attainable. Crowdfunding has been used for a number of projects. I’ve even participated in crowdfunding offering dollars to projects from a classroom of sewing machines for battered girls to a phone that is like a transformer! Only once though have I given money to a tiny house crowdfunding project. Why? Simply put, there is nothing in it for me or anyone else other than the person who will live in the tiny house.
When I see a tiny house enthusiast looking to build a tiny house and use crowdfunding to do so I am quite skeptical. I immediately ask a number of questions:
- What is your current situation?
- Why do you want to build tiny?
- Do you have building plans yet?
- Who will be helping you build?
- Are you asking for money based on a set-in-stone budget?
- What is your timeline?
From what I have seen these questions are often unthought of and unanswered which makes me not believe in the integrity of the project. My last question is always, “what will you do with any money left over?”
I am not for passing judgement on anyone’s financial situation. I am also a fan of people helping people. But I firmly believe that in order to proposition folks for their hard earned dollar a few things need to be in place. So if you are planning to launch a crowdfunding campaign soon I suggest taking note of the following do’s and don’ts.
Plan It Out. Determine the right goals and time period for your project and identify your already established networks. If you choose to go with a high risk, high reward, project you will likely give your project a sense of urgency and excitement. If you go with a low risk, laissez-faire, long-term project you stand the chance of giving your backers a feeling of latency.
Create Valuable Rewards. It is beyond important for your project to offer fundraising rewards. It instills a sense of ownership in your backers. Be careful though not to give away too much and negate your actual funding. You don’t want to overshoot your budget with give-aways. Instead, offer rewards that show your dedication to the project and how much you are willing to do to achieve funding.
Build Buzz. You will get the best results from crowdfunding if you build buzz around your project and build a community first.The most successful campaigns have established, supportive communities, whether they be online or in real life! Two words: Social Media.
Give ENOUGH Time. When a project goes beyond creating urgency and just sets an unrealistic time frame they exude a sense of desperation. Because of the important of networking and regular updates if you set your time frame too short you can’t possibly network or alert well without upsetting your followers and subscribers and appearing SPAMmy. Give yourself at least 3-4 weeks and update once or twice a week.
Set A Strategic Goal. IndieGoGo allows you to claim your funds even when you haven’t reached your total. Kickstarter though (as well as a few others) don’t pay you anything if you don’t make your goal. The money is returned to the backers and you retreat with a bruised ego and no financial foundation. In this case you should ask for the minimum you need to start your project. That way you will at least walk away a “winner” with some foundation funding. If you raise more consider it gravy.
Sing And Dance. It is understood that if you are seeking crowdfunding you are in need of financing. That is a given. Don’t waste people’s time with long tales of woe and tragedy. Everyone has personal circumstances that may keep them from their dream. Instead use your potential backers time to give them a sense of ownership in your project.
If you want to see an interesting Infographic on the Power of the Crowd click here.